Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
January 23,  2006

Hakkinen 'glad' he quit F1
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) Double world champion Mika Hakkinen says he does not regret quitting formula one in 2001.

The 37-year-old Finn, who won twenty grands prix for McLaren, is happy in the lower-pressure environment of German touring cars (DTM).

''I am glad that I am no longer part of that world,'' Hakkinen told the 'Berliner Zeitung' newspaper in Germany, referring particularly to constant rule changes in the F1 category.

Mika Hakkinen said: ''The stresses (in F1) only continue to increase.''

He also laid down an opinion as to how the new grand prix season might play out, isolating countryman Kimi Raikkonen as 'definitely' the best driver.

''But formula one is not only about the driver, but the whole team,'' said Hakkinen. ''It is therefore nearly impossible to predict.

''We'll see who comes up with the best innovation.''

Teams to lift veils this week
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) 'F1 2006' is set to step up a gear this week, with no less than three teams preparing to officially launch their new grand prix cars.

Ferrari will get the show rolling, with the presentation of its 2006 contender at Mugello on Tuesday. Honda will take the veils off 'RA106' in Barcelona on Wednesday, and newly Cosworth-powered Williams are set to launch the FW28 at Grove (England) on Friday.

Before all that, however - on Monday - the week's big group test at Circuit de Catalunya in Spain will kick off. The most newsworthy event near Barcelona will be the track debut of McLaren's all-new MP4-21.

According to provisional schedules, Ferrari, BMW-Sauber, Honda, Red Bull, Renault, Toyota and Scuderia Toro Rosso will definitely also appear at the bumper test.

I'm not going anywhere - Bernie
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) For many in pitlane, Bernie Ecclestone's age is one of the biggest problems facing formula one.

At 75, the F1 supremo might - sooner or later - want to retire. It must also be said that, particularly after his heart bypass surgery of 1999, no-one lives forever, even if Bernie's health is as robust as his intellect.

Regarding the first worry, however, Ecclestone says he has no intention of hanging up his famous white shirt.

''I don't think (wife) Slavica wants me hanging around at home all day,'' he told the 'Bild' magazine at the World Cup ski meeting in Kitzbuhel (Austria).

Bernie once told a British newspaper that he was not afraid of death. ''I wouldn't want to be 21 again,'' he added.

''I guess the good thing about being old is that if a judge said to me 'Life imprisonment!' it wouldn't worry me much!''

Also at the Kitzbuhel event were Niki Lauda - the triple world champion - David Coulthard, and Ralf Schumacher.

'06 pecking order unclear - Niki Lauda
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) In a world of mystery and indecision, outspoken former triple world champion Niki Lauda can usually be relied on for an opinion.

But even the great 56-year-old Austrian sat on the fence when asked who might wield the balance of power this year.

Lauda told 'TZ' newspaper that 'too many factors are new' to make an accurate view, such as F1's shift from V10 to V8 power.

''At the beginning, some will clearly have the upper hand in the first half of the year,'' he said. ''And regarding tires, things are likely to change again.''

Of one thing, however, we can be certain, according to Niki Lauda -- seven time title winner Michael Schumacher's motivation.

Agreeing with Lauda is Schumacher's 1997 title foe, Jacques Villeneuve. The BMW Sauber driver reckons the German's bad year in 2005 was not his fault.

''Someone who has won so many races and world championships,'' the French Canadian remarked, ''is always dangerous.''

Spa not axed - minister
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) Reports that formula one supremo Bernie Ecclestone has called off the 2006 Belgian GP may have been premature.

Adding to the governing FIA's refusal to confirm the claims of local opposition politician Serge Kubla, minister Michel Daerden says the French speaking Wallonian government is still in talks with 75-year-old Bernie.

However, the news that Ecclestone is demanding some $18m in renovations to the ageing Spa Francorchamps circuit is less disputed, as is speculation that time is running out for the new paddock complex to be ready in time for the race on September 17.

Carroll disappointed to miss F1 spot
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) Adam Carroll is disappointed to have missed out on the coveted 'Friday' spot at F1 team Honda this year.

The young Ulsterman, 23, had been first in queue to inherit the ride, had Anthony Davidson found a spot on the formula one grid.

Carroll won three GP2 races last year.

''When Anthony stayed, that really didn't help me,'' he admitted to Setanta. ''If he had gone, I think I had a really good chance. I've just got to concentrate on racing now.''

The Portadown-born test driver also allayed fears that F1 horse power has fizzled out over the winter, insisting that a 2.4 liter V8 is still mighty.

Carroll said: ''It has tones of power.

''It's still incredibly quick. It's probably easier (to drive), it's maybe ten miles an hour slower on the straight, and you can brake a lot later because you are going that little bit slower.

''It's exactly the same through the corners, though.''

Rally champ wants taste of F1
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) World rally champion Sebastien Loeb says he wants to test a F1 racer.

The 31-year-old Frenchman, who finished second in his Citroen in the weekend's Monte Carlo rally, has previously mused about sampling the power of the Ferrari single-seater.

''I have spoken to Jean Todt,'' Loeb told the 'OOeNachrichten' newspaper, ''but so far nothing has come of it.''

However, Loeb said he would 'greatly enjoy' a taste of formula one action.

He added: ''I know many people who would also like to see me in a F1 car.

''For the moment, however, I must be content in my own Ferrari (road car).''

Cash for Hockenheim
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) The fate of German grand prix venue Hockenheim might have taken yet another stride in the right direction.

After circuit bosses met last week with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, it is now reported by the 'Stuttgarter Nachrichten' newspaper that the local 'L-Bank' has granted the Hockenheimring a $6m loan.

Interestingly, L-Bank is fully owned by the state of Baden-Wurtemberg, inside which the city of Hockenheim is located. Hockenheim mayor Dieter Gummer is also chairman of the near-bankrupt track.

Red Bull won't become a McLaren - Haug
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) Norbert Haug is not concerned that Red Bull's formula one racer may turn into a McLaren.

Mercedes' F1 engine chief referred to the fact that long time McLaren technical director and designer Adrian Newey has switched to the rival camp.

But Haug said Newey will not transform Red Bull's new 2006 'RB2' contender into a winning McLaren overnight.

''Our (2005) car was a group effort of the entire technical team,'' Haug told the 'Stuttgarter Zeitung' 'paper.

''It is not Adrian's car, that he drew with his hand alone, but a product of McLaren Mercedes.''

The German, 52, does admit, however, that Newey is likely to bring some McLaren influence to Milton-Keynes based Red Bull in 2006.

'06 is JB's 'crunch year'
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) 2006 will be a 'crunch year' for Honda's Jenson Button.

That's the warning of legendary ex-commentator Murray Walker, who told Britain's 'The People' tabloid that 26-year-old JB's new pairing with Rubens Barrichello will show what he's made of.

''If he can't beat Barrichello,'' said the 82-year-old, ''it's debatable whether he can become world champion.''

In 100 grand prix starts for Williams, Benetton and BAR-Honda, Jenson is yet to win a race.

Irvine faces London arrest
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) Former Ferrari and Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine would be arrested on sight by London police, it has emerged.

A spokeswoman told the 'Belfast Telegraph' newspaper that the arrest warrant dates back to 2003, when the 40-year-old Ulsterman failed to appear in court after speeding on a motor scooter without a license or valid insurance.

But in a little bit of good news for Irvine, the warrant is not actively being chased up by London police, and the multi-millionaire would be immediately released on bail.

McLaren funding Briton's GP2 move
(GMMf1NET -- Jan.23) McLaren is financing Lewis Hamilton's final step before reaching the formula one grid, the team's 'F1 CEO' admits.

Martin Whitmarsh said both Woking based McLaren and engine partner Mercedes-Benz 'have taken the decision' that 20-year-old Hamilton will move to GP2, where he fills F1-bound series champion Nico Rosberg's ART seat.

''We feel the series provides the competitiveness and technical challenge he needs,'' Whitmarsh said.

McLaren has funded Hamilton's junior career since 1998, as speculation mounts that he would become the first black driver in F1.

Lewis dominated the F3 Euroseries last year with ART sister team ASM. ART is run by Ferrari principal Jean Todt's son, Nicolas Todt.

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